Now, Mr. President, as to the measure before us a few words. It will be observed that this bill is enacted for the present year, and no longer.
This is no answer to an alleged want of constitutional power to pass it, but it is an answer in great degree where the mere policy and temporary convenience of the act are to be considered.
In the first place, the bill gives to each house of Congress equal power over the question of counting, at every stage.
It preserves intact the prerogatives, under the Constitution, of each house.
It excludes any possibility of judicial determination by the presiding officer of the Senate upon the reception and exclusion of a vote.
The certificates of the electoral colleges will be placed in the possession and subject to the disposition of both houses of Congress in joint session.
The two houses are co-ordinate and separate and distinct. Neither can dominate the other. They are to ascertain whether the electors have been validly appointed, and whether they have validly performed their duties as electors. The two houses must, under the act of 1792, "ascertain and declare" whether there has been a valid election, according to the Constitution and laws of the United States. The votes of the electors and the declaration of the result by the two houses give a valid title, and nothing else can, unless no majority has been disclosed by the count; in which case the duty of the House is to be performed by electing a President, and of the Senate by electing a Vice-President.
If it be the duty of the two houses "to ascertain" whether the action of the electors has been in accordance with the Constitution, they must inquire. They exercise supervisory power over every branch of public administration and over the electors. The methods they choose to employ in coming to a decision are such as the two houses, acting separately or together, may lawfully employ. Sir, the grant of power to the commission is in just that measure, no more and no less. The decision they render can be overruled by the concurrent votes of the two houses. Is it not competent for the two houses of Congress to agree that a concurrent majority of the two houses is necessary to reject the electoral vote of a State? If so, may they not adopt means which they believe will tend to produce a concurrence? Finally, sir, this bill secures the great object for which the two houses were brought together: the counting of the votes of the electoral college; not to elect a President by the two houses, but to determine who has been elected agreeably to the Constitution and the laws. It provides against the failure to count the electoral vote of a State in event of disagreement between the two houses, in case of single returns, and, in cases of contest and double returns, furnishes a tribunal whose composition secures a decision of the question in disagreement, and whose perfect justice and impartiality cannot be gainsaid or doubted.
The tribunal is carved out of the body of the Senate and out of the body of the House by their vote viva voce. No man can sit upon it from either branch without the choice, openly made, by a majority of the body of which he is a member, that he shall go there. The five judges who are chosen are from the court of last resort in this country, men eminent for learning, selected for their places because of the virtues and the capacities that fit them for this high station. ... Mr. President, objection has been made to the employment of the commission at all, to the creation of this committee of five senators, five representatives, and five judges of the Supreme Court, and the reasons for the objection have not been distinctly stated. The reasons for the appointment I will dwell upon briefly.
Sir, how has the count of the vote of every President and Vice-President, from the time of George Washington and John Adams, in 1789, to the present day, been made? Always and without exception by tellers appointed by the two houses. This is without exception, even in the much commented case of Mr. John Langdon, who, before the government was in operation, upon the recommendation of the constitutional convention, was appointed by the Senate its President, for the sole purpose of opening and counting these votes. He did it, as did every successor to him, under the motion and authority of the two houses of Congress, who appointed their own agents, called tellers to conduct the count, and whose count, being reported to him, was by him declared.
From 1793 to 1865 the count of votes was conducted under concurrent resolutions of the two houses, appointing their respective committees to join "in ascertaining and reporting a mode of examining the votes for President and Vice-President."
The respective committees reported resolutions fixing the time and place for the assembling of the two houses, and appointing tellers to conduct the examination on the part of each house respectively.
Mr. President, the office of teller, or the word "teller," is unknown to the Constitution, and yet each house has appointed tellers, and has acted upon their report, as I have said, from the very foundation of the government. The present commission is more elaborate, but its objects and its purposes are the same, the information and instruction of the two houses who have a precisely equal share in its creation and organization; they are the instrumentalities of the two houses for performing the high constitutional duty of ascertaining whom the electors in the several States have duly chosen President and Vice-President of the United States. Whatever is the jurisdiction and power of the two houses of Congress over the votes, and the judgment of either reception or rejection, is by this law wholly conferred upon this commission of fifteen. The bill presented does not define what that jurisdiction and power is, but it leaves it all as it is, adding nothing, subtracting nothing. Just what power the Senate by itself, or the House by itself, or the Senate and the House acting together, have over the subject of counting, admitting, or rejecting an electoral vote, in case of double returns from the same State, that power is by this act, no more and no less, vested in the commission of fifteen men; reserving, however, to the two houses the power of overruling the decision of the commission by their concurrent action.
The delegation to masters in chancery of the consideration and adjustments of questions of mingled law and fact is a matter of familiar and daily occurrence in the courts of the States and of the United States.
The circuit court of the United States is composed of the district judge and the circuit judge, and the report to them of a master is affirmed unless both judges concur in overruling it.
Under the present bill the decision of the commission will stand unless overruled by the concurrent votes of the two houses. I do not propose to follow the example which has been set here in the Senate by some of the advocates as well as the opponents of this measure, and discuss what construction is to be given and what definition may be applied or ought to be applied in the exercise of this power by the commission under this law. Let me read the bill:—
All the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of the electoral votes of each State shall be opened, in the alphabetical order of the States, as provided in Section 1 of this act; and when there shall be more than one such certificate or paper, as the certificates and papers from such State shall so be opened (excepting duplicates of the same return), they shall be read by the tellers, and thereupon the President of the Senate shall call for objections, if any. Every objection shall be made in writing, and shall state clearly and concisely, and without argument, the ground thereof, and shall be signed by at least one Senator and one Member of the House of Representatives before the same shall be received. When all such objections so made to any certificate, vote, or paper from a State shall have been received and read, all such certificates, votes, and papers so objected to, and all papers accompanying the same, together with such objections, shall be forthwith submitted to said commission, which shall proceed to consider the same, with the same powers, if any, now possessed for that purpose by the two houses acting separately or together, and, by a majority of votes, decide whether any and what votes from such States are the votes provided for by the Constitution of the United States, and how many and what persons were duly appointed electors in such State, and may therein take into view such petitions, depositions, and other papers, if any, as shall, by the Constitution and now existing law, be competent and pertinent in such consideration: which decision shall be made in writing.
It will be observed that all the questions to be decided by this commission are to be contained in the written objections. Until those objections are read and filed, their contents must be unknown, and the issues raised by them undescribed. But whatever they are, they are submitted to the decision of the commission. The duty of interpreting this law and of giving a construction to the Constitution and existing laws is vested in the commission; and I hold that we have no right or power to control in advance, by our construction, their sworn judgment as to the matters which they are to decide. We would defeat the very object of the bill should we invade the essential power of judgment of this commission and establish a construction in advance and bind them to it. It would, in effect, be giving to them a mere mock power to decide by leaving them nothing to decide.
Mr. President, there are certainly very good reasons why the concurrent action of both houses should be necessary to reject a vote. It is that feature of this bill which has my heartiest concurrence; for I will frankly say that the difficulties which have oppressed me most in considering this question a year or more ago, before any method had been devised, arose from my apprehensions of the continued absorption of undue power over the affairs of the States; and I here declare that the power and the sole power of appointing the electors is in the State, and nowhere else. The power of ascertaining whether the State has executed that power justly and according to the Constitution and laws is the duty which is cast upon the two houses of Congress. Now, if, under the guise or pretext of judging of the regularity of the action of a State or its electors, the Congress or either house may interpose the will of its members in opposition to the will of the State, the act will be one of usurpation and wrong, although I do not see where is the tribunal to arrest and punish it except the great tribunal of an honest public opinion. But sir that tribunal, though great, though in the end certain, is yet ofttimes slow to be awakened to action; and therefore I rejoice when the two houses agree that neither of them shall be able to reject the vote of a State which is without contest arising within that State itself, but that the action of both shall be necessary to concur in the rejection.
If either house may reject, or by dissenting cause a rejection, then it is in the power of either house to overthrow the electoral colleges or the popular vote, and throw the election upon the House of Representatives. This, it is clear to me, cannot be lawfully done unless no candidate has received a majority of the votes of all the electors appointed. The sworn duty is to ascertain what persons have been chosen by the electors, and not to elect by Congress.
It may be said that the Senate would not be apt to throw the election into the House. Not so, Mr. President; look at the relative majorities of the two houses of Congress as they will be after the fourth of March next. It is true there will be a numerical majority of the members of the Democratic party in the House of Representatives, but the States represented will have a majority as States of the Republican party. If the choice were to be made after March 4th, then a Republican Senate, by rejecting or refusing to count votes, could of its own motion throw the election into the House; which, voting by States, would be in political accord with the Senate. The House of Representatives, like the present House in its political complexion, composed of a numerical majority, and having also a majority of the States of the same party, would have the power then to draw the election into its own hands. Mr. President, either of these powers would be utterly dangerous and in defeat of the object and intent of the constitutional provisions on this subject.
Sir, this was my chief objection to the twenty-second joint rule. Under that rule either house of Congress, without debate, without law, without reason, without justice, could, by the sheer exercise of its will or its caprice, disfranchise any State in the electoral college. Under that rule we lived and held three presidential elections.
In January 1873, under a resolution introduced by the honorable Senator from Ohio [Mr. Sherman] and adopted by the Senate, the Committee on Privileges and Elections, presided over by the honorable Senator from Indiana [Mr Morton], proceeded to investigate the elections held in the States of Louisiana and Arkansas, and inquired whether these elections had been held in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States and the laws of said States, and sent for persons and papers and made thorough investigation, which resulted in excluding the electoral votes of Louisiana from the count, (See Report No. 417, third session Forty-Second Congress.)
The popular vote was then cast, and it was cast at the mercy of a majority in either branch of Congress, who claimed the right to annul it by casting out States until they should throw the election into a Republican House of Representatives. I saw that dangerous power then, and, because I saw it then, am I so blind, am I so without principle in my action, that I should ask for myself a dangerous power that I refused to those who differ from me in opinion? God forbid.
This concurrence of the two houses to reject the electoral votes of a State was the great feature that John Marshall sought for in 1800. The Senate then proposed that either house should have power to reject a vote. The House of Representatives, under the lead of John Marshall, declared that they should concur to reject the vote, and upon that difference of opinion the measure fell and was never revived. In 1824 the bill prepared by Mr. Van Buren contained the same wholesome principle and provided that the two houses must concur in the rejection of a vote. Mr. Van Buren reported this bill in 1824. It was amended and passed, and, as far as I can find from the record, without a division of the Senate. It was referred in the House of Representatives to the Committee on the Judiciary, and it was reported back by Mr. Daniel Webster, without amendment, to the Committee of the Whole House, showing their approval of the bill; and that principle is thoroughly incorporated in the present measure and gives to me one of the strong reasons for my approval.
Mr. President, this bill is not the product of any one man's mind, but it is the result of careful study and frequent amendment. Mutual concessions, modifications of individual preferences, were constantly and necessarily made in the course of framing such a measure as it now stands. My individual opinions might lead me to object to the employment of the judicial branch at all, of ingrafting even to any extent political power upon the judicial branch or its members, or confiding to them any question even quasi-political in its character. To this I have expressed and still have disinclination, but my sense of the general value of this measure and the necessity for the adoption of a plan outweighed my disposition to insist upon my own preferences as to this feature. At first I was disposed to question the constitutional power to call in the five justices of the Supreme Court, but the duty of ascertaining what are the votes, the true votes, under the Constitution, having been imposed upon the commission, the methods were necessarily discretionary with the two houses. Any and every aid that intelligence and skill combined can furnish may be justly used when it is appropriate to the end in view.
Why, sir, the members of the Supreme Court have in the history of this country been employed in public service entirely distinct from judicial function. Here lately the treaty of Washington was negotiated by a member of the Supreme Court of the United States; the venerable and learned Mr. Justice Nelson, of New York, was nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate as one of the Joint High Commission. Chief-Justice Jay was sent in 1794, while he was chief-justice of the United States, as minister plenipotentiary to England, and negotiated a treaty of permanent value and importance to both countries. He was holding court in the city of Philadelphia at the time that he was nominated and confirmed, as is found by reference to his biography, and—
Without vacating his seat upon the bench he went to England, negotiated the treaty which has since borne his name, and returned to this country in the spring of the following year.
His successor was Chief-Justice Rutledge, and the next to him was Chief-Justice Oliver Ellsworth. He, while holding the high place of chief-justice, was nominated and confirmed as minister plenipotentiary to Spain. By a law of Congress the chief-justice of the United States is ex officio the president of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Morton—I should like to ask the Senator, if it does not interrupt him, whether he regards the five judges acting on this commission as acting in their character as judges of the Supreme Court, if that is their official character, and that this bill simply enlarges their jurisdiction in that respect?
Mr. Bayard—Certainly not, Mr. President. They are not acting as judges of the Supreme Court, and their powers and their jurisdiction as judges of the Supreme Court are not in any degree involved; they are simply performing functions under the government not inconsistent, by the Constitution, or the law, or the policy of the law, with the stations which they now hold. So I hold that the employment of one or more of the Supreme Court judges in the matter under discussion was appropriate legislation. We have early and high authority in the majorities in both House and Senate in the bill of 1800, in both of which houses a bill was passed creating a commission similar to that proposed by this bill and calling in the chief-justice of the United States as the chairman of the grand committee, as they called it then, a commission as we term it now.
As has been said before, many of the Senators and members of the Congress of 1800 had taken part in the convention that framed the Constitution, and all were its contemporaries, and one of the chief actors in the proceedings on the part of the House of Representatives was John Marshall, of Virginia, who one year afterward became the chief-justice of the United States, whose judicial interpretations have since that time clad the skeleton of the Constitution with muscles of robust power. Is it not safe to abide by such examples? And I could name many more, and some to whom my respect is due for other and personal reasons.
In the debate of 1817, in the case of the disputed vote of Indiana; in 1820, in the case of Missouri; and again in 1857, in the case of Wisconsin, I find an array of constitutional lawyers who took part in those debates, among them the most distinguished members of both political parties, concurring in the opinion that by appropriate legislation all causes of dispute on this all-important matter of counting the electoral vote could be and ought to be adjusted satisfactorily. Why, sir, even the dictum of Chancellor Kent, that has been read here with so much apparent confidence by the honorable Senator from Indiana, is itself expressed to be his opinion of the law "in the absence of legislation on the subject."
Mr. President, there were other objections to this bill; one by the honorable Senator from Indiana. He denounced it as "a compromise." I have gone over its features and I have failed to discover, nor has the fact yet been stated in my hearing, wherein anything is compromised. What power of the Senate is relinquished? What power of the House is relinquished? What power that both should possess is withheld? I do not know where the compromise can be, what principle is surrendered. This bill intends to compromise nothing in the way of principle, to compromise no right, but to provide an honest adjudication for the rights of all. Where is it unjust? Whose rights are endangered by it? Who can foretell the judgment of this commission upon any question of law or fact? Sir, there is no compromise in any sense of the word, but there is a blending of feeling, a blending of opinions in favor of right and justice.
But, sir, if it were a compromise, what is there in compromise that is discreditable either to men or to nations? This very charter of government under which we live was created in a spirit of compromise and mutual concession. Without that spirit it never would have been made, and without a continuance of that spirit it will not be prolonged. Sir, when the Committee on Style and Revision of the Federal convention of 1787 had prepared a digest of their plan, they reported a letter to accompany the plan to Congress, from which I take these words as being most applicable to the bill under consideration:—
And thus the Constitution which we now present is the result of a spirit of amity and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.
The language of that letter may well be applied to the present measure; and had the words been recalled to my memory before the report was framed I cannot doubt that they would have been adopted as part of it to be sent here to the Senate as descriptive of the spirit and of the object with which the committee had acted.
But, sir, the honorable Senator also stated, as a matter deterring us from our proper action on this bill, that the shadow of intimidation had entered the halls of Congress, and that members of this committee had joined in this report and presented this bill under actual fear of personal violence. Such a statement seems to me almost incredible. I may not read other men's hearts and know what they have felt, nor can I measure the apprehension of personal danger felt by the honorable Senator. It seems to me incredible. Fear, if I had it, had been the fear of doing wrong in this great juncture of public affairs, not the fear of the consequences of doing right. Had there been this intimidation tenfold repeated to which the Senator has alluded, and of which I have no knowledge, I should have scorned myself had I hesitated one moment in my onward march of duty on this subject.
"Hate's yell, or envy's hiss, or folly's bray"—
what are they to a man who, in the face of events such as now confront us, is doing that which his conscience dictates to him do? It has been more than one hundred years since a great judgment was delivered in Westminster Hall in England by one of the great judges of our English-speaking people. Lord Mansfield, when delivering judgment in the case of the King against John Wilkes, was assailed by threats of popular violence of every description, and he has placed upon record how such threats should be met by any public man who sees before him the clear star of duty and trims his bark only that he may follow it through darkness and through light. I will ask my friend from Missouri if he will do me the favor to read the extract to which I have alluded.
Mr. Cockrell read as follows:—
But here, let me pause.
It is fit to take some notice of the various terrors hung out; the numerous crowds which have attended and now attend in and about the hall, out of all reach of hearing what passes in court, and the tumults which, in other places, have shamefully insulted all order and government. Audacious addresses in print dictate to us from those they call the people, the judgment to be given now and afterward upon the conviction. Reasons of policy are urged from danger to the kingdom by commotion and general confusion.
Give me leave to take the opportunity of this great and respectable audience to let the whole world know all such attempts are vain.
I pass over many anonymous letters I have received. Those in print are public; and some of them have been brought judicially before the court. Whoever the writers are, they take the wrong way. I will do my duty, unawed. What am I to fear? That mendax infamia from the press, which daily coins false facts and false motives? The lies of calumny carry no terror to me. I trust that my temper of mind, and the color and conduct of my life, have given me a suit of armor against these arrows. If, during this king's reign, I have ever supported his government, and assisted his measures, I have done it without any other reward than the consciousness of doing what I thought right. If I have ever opposed, I have done it upon the points themselves, without mixing in party or faction, and without any collateral views. I honor the king, and respect the people; bat many things acquired by force of either, are, in my account, objects not worth ambition. I wish popularity; but it is that popularity which follows, not that which is run after. It is that popularity which, sooner or later, never fails to do justice to the pursuit of noble ends by noble means. I will not do that which my conscience tells me is wrong upon this occasion to gain the huzzas of thousands, or the daily praise of all the papers which come from the press; I will not avoid doing what I think is right, though it should draw on me the whole artillery of libel, all that falsehood and malice can invent or the credulity of a deluded populace can swallow. I can say, with a great magistrate, upon an occasion and under circumstances not unlike, "Ego hoc animo semper fui. ut invidiam virtute partam gloriam, non invidiam putarem."
The threats go further than abuse; personal violence is denounced. I do not believe it; it is not the genius of the worst men of this country in the worst of times. But I have set my mind at rest. The last end that can happen to any man never comes too soon, if he falls in support of the law and liberty of his country (for liberty is synonymous to law and government). Such a shock, too, might be productive of public good: it might awake the better part of the kingdom out of that lethargy which seems to have benumbed them; and bring the mad part back to their senses, as men intoxicated are sometimes stunned into sobriety.—Burrows's Reports No. 4, pp. 2561-3.
Mr. Bayard—Mr. President, in the course of my duty here as a representative of the rights of others, as a chosen and sworn public servant, I feel that I have no right to give my individual wishes, prejudices, interests, undue influence over my public action. To do so would be to commit a breach of trust in the powers confided to me. It is true I was chosen a Senator by a majority only, but not for a majority only. I was chosen by a party, but not for a party. I represent all the good people of the State which has sent me here. In my office as a Senator I recognize no claim upon my action in the name and for the sake of party. The oath I have taken is to support the Constitution of my country's government, not the fiat of any political organization, even could its will be ascertained. In sessions preceding the present I have adverted to the difficulty attending the settlement of this great question, and have urgently besought action in advance at a time when the measure adopted could not serve to predicate its results to either party. My failure then gave me great uneasiness, and filled me with anxiety; and yet I can now comprehend the wisdom concealed in my disappointment, for in the very emergency of this hour, in the shadow of the danger that has drawn so nigh to us, has been begotten in the hearts of American Senators and Representatives and the American people a spirit worthy of the occasion—born to meet these difficulties, to cope with them, and, God willing, to conquer them.
Animated by this spirit the partisan is enlarged into the patriot. Before it the lines of party sink into hazy obscurity; and the horizon which bounds our view reaches on every side to the uttermost verge of the great Republic. It is a spirit that exalts humanity, and imbued with it the souls of men soar into the pure air of unselfish devotion to the public welfare. It lighted with a smile the cheek of Curtius as he rode into the gulf; it guided the hand of Aristides as he sadly wrote upon the shell the sentence of his own banishment; it dwelt in the frozen earthworks of Valley Forge; and from time to time it has been an inmate of these halls of legislation. I believe it is here to-day, and that the present measure was born under its influence.
LORD BEACONSFIELD (BENJAMIN DISRAELI) (1804-1881)
When, at the age of thirty-three. Benjamin Disraeli entered the House of Commons, he was flushed with his first literary successes and inclined perhaps to take parliamentary popularity by storm. It was the first year of Victoria's reign (1837) and the fashions of the times allowed great latitude for the display of idiosyncracies in dress. It seems that Disraeli pushed this advantage to the point of license. We hear much of the amount of jewelry he wore and of the gaudiness of his waistcoats. This may or may not have had a deciding influence in determining the character of his reception by the house, but at any rate it was a tempestuous one. He was repeatedly interrupted, and when he attempted to proceed the uproar of cries and laughter finally overpowered him and he abandoned for the time being the attempt to speak—not, however, until he had served on the house due notice of his great future, expressed in the memorable words—thundered, we are told, at the top of his voice, and audible still in English history—"You shall hear me!"
Not ten years later, the young man with the gaudy waistcoats had become the leading Conservative orator of the campaign against the Liberals on their Corn Law policy and so great was the impression produced by his speeches that in 1852, when the Derby ministry was formed, he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The secret of his success is the thorough-going way in which he identified himself with the English aristocracy. Where others had apologized for aristocracy as a method of government, he justified. Instead of excusing and avoiding, he assumed that a government of privilege rather than that based on rights or the assumption of their existence is the best possible government, the only natural one, the only one capable of perpetuating itself without constant and violent changes. Kept on the defensive by the forward movement of the people, as well as by the tendency towards Liberalism or Radicalism shown by the men of highest education among the aristocratic classes themselves, the English Conservatives were delighted to find a man of great ability and striking eloquence, who seemed to have a religious conviction that "Toryism" was the only means of saving society and ensuring progress. It is characteristic of his mind and his methods, that he does not shrink from calling himself a Tory. He is as proud of bearing that reproach as Camilla Desmoulins was of being called a Sansculotte. When a man is thus "for thorough," he becomes representative of all who have his aspirations or share his tendencies without his aggressiveness. No doubt Disraeli's speeches are the best embodiment of Tory principle, the most attractive presentation of aristocratic purposes in government made in the nineteenth century. No member of the English peerage to the "manner born" has approached him in this respect. It is not a question of whether others have equaled or exceeded him in ability or statesmanship. On that point there may be room for difference of opinion, but to read any one of his great speeches is to see at once that he has the infinite advantage of the rest in being the strenuous and faith-inspired champion of aristocracy and government by privilege—not the mere defender and apologist for it.
In the extent of his information, the energy and versatility of his intellect, and the boldness of his methods, he had no equal among the Conservative leaders of the Victorian reign. His audacity was well illustrated when, after the great struggle over the reform measures of 1866 which he opposed, the Conservatives succeeded to power, and he, as their representative, advanced a measure "more sweeping in its nature as a reform bill than that he had successfully opposed" when it was advocated by Gladstone. In foreign affairs, he showed the same boldness, working to check the Liberal advance at home by directing public attention away from domestic grievances to brilliant achievements abroad. This policy which his opponents resented the more bitterly because they saw it to be the only one by which they could be held in check, won him the title of "Jingo," and made him the leading representative of British imperialism abroad as he was of English aristocracy at home.
THE ASSASSINATION OF LINCOLN (From a Speech in Parliament, 1865)
There are rare instances when the sympathy of a nation approaches those tenderer feelings which are generally supposed to be peculiar to the individual and to be the happy privilege of private life; and this is one. Under any circumstances we should have bewailed the catastrophe at Washington; under any circumstances we should have shuddered at the means by which it was accomplished. But in the character of the victim, and even in the accessories of his last moments, there is something so homely and innocent that it takes the question, as it were, out of all the pomp of history and the ceremonial of diplomacy,—it touches the heart of nations and appeals to the domestic sentiment of mankind. Whatever the various and varying opinions in this house, and in the country generally, on the policy of the late President of the United States, all must agree that in one of the severest trials which ever tested the moral qualities of man he fulfilled his duty with simplicity and strength. Nor is it possible for the people of England at such a moment to forget that he sprang from the same fatherland and spoke the same mother tongue. When such crimes are perpetrated the public mind is apt to fall into gloom and perplexity, for it is ignorant alike of the causes and the consequences of such deeds. But it is one of our duties to reassure them under unreasoning panic and despondency. Assassination has never changed the history of the world. I will not refer to the remote past, though an accident has made the most memorable instance of antiquity at this moment fresh in the minds and memory of all around me. But even the costly sacrifice of a Caesar did not propitiate the inexorable destiny of his country. If we look to modern times, to times at least with the feelings of which we are familiar, and the people of which were animated and influenced by the same interests as ourselves, the violent deaths of two heroic men, Henry IV. of France and the Prince of Orange, are conspicuous illustrations of this truth. In expressing our unaffected and profound sympathy with the citizens of the United States on this untimely end of their elected chief, let us not, therefore, sanction any feeling of depression, but rather let us express a fervent hope that from out of the awful trials of the last four years, of which the least is not this violent demise, the various populations of North America may issue elevated and chastened, rich with the accumulated wisdom and strong in the disciplined energy which a young nation can only acquire in a protracted and perilous struggle. Then they will be enabled not merely to renew their career of power and prosperity, but they will renew it to contribute to the general happiness of mankind. It is with these feelings that I second the address to the crown.
AGAINST DEMOCRACY FOR ENGLAND (Delivered in 1865)
Sir, I could have wished, and once I almost believed, that it was not necessary for me to take part in this debate. I look on this discussion as the natural epilogue of the Parliament of 1859; we remember the prologue. I consider this to be a controversy between the educated section of the Liberal party and that section of the Liberal party, according to their companions and colleagues, not entitled to an epithet so euphuistic and complimentary. But after the speech of the minister, I hardly think it would become me, representing the opinions of the gentlemen with whom I am acting on this side of the house, entirely to be silent. We have a measure before us to-night which is to increase the franchise in boroughs. Without reference to any other circumstances I object to that measure. I object to it because an increase of the franchise in boroughs is a proposal to redistribute political power in the country. I do not think political power in the country ought to be treated partially; from the very nature of things it is impossible, if there is to be a redistribution of political power, that you can only regard the suffrage as it affects one section of the constituent body. Whatever the proposition of the honorable gentleman, whether abstractedly it may be expedient or not, this is quite clear, that it must be considered not only in relation to the particular persons with whom it will deal, but to other persons with whom it does not deal, though it would affect them. And therefore it has always been quite clear that if you deal with the subject popularly called Parliamentary Reform, you must deal with it comprehensively. The arrangements you may make with reference to one part of the community may not be objectionable in themselves, but may be extremely objectionable if you consider them with reference to other parts. Consequently it has been held—and the more we consider the subject the more true and just appears to be the conclusion—that if you deal with the matter you must deal with it comprehensively. You must not only consider borough constituencies, you must consider county constituencies: and when persons rise up and urge their claims to be introduced into the constituent body, even if you think there is a plausible claim substantiated on their part, you are bound in policy and justice to consider also the claims of other bodies not in possession of the franchise, but whose right to consideration may be equally great. And so clear is it when you come to the distribution of power that you must consider the subject in all its bearings, that even honorable gentlemen who have taken part in this debate have not been able to avoid the question of what they call the redistribution of seats—a very important part of the distribution of power. It is easy for the honorable member for Liskeard, for example, to rise and say, in supporting this measure for the increase of the borough franchise, that it is impossible any longer to conceal the anomalies of our system in regard to the distribution of seats. "Is it not monstrous," he asks, "that Calne, with 173 voters, should return a member, while Glasgow returns only two, with a constituency of 20,000?" Well, it may be equally monstrous that Liskeard should return one member, and that Birkenhead should only make a similar return. The distribution of seats, as any one must know who has ever considered the subject deeply and with a sense of responsibility towards the country, is one of the most profound and difficult questions that can be brought before the house. It is all very well to treat it in an easy, offhand manner; but how are you to reconcile the case of North Cheshire, of North Durham, of West Kent, and many other counties, where you find four or six great towns, with a population, perhaps, of 100,000, returning six members to this house, while the rest of the population of the county, though equal in amount, returns only two members? How are you to meet the case of the representation of South Lancashire in reference to its boroughs? Why, those are more anomalous than the case of Calne.
Then there is the question of Scotland. With a population hardly equal to that of the metropolis, and with wealth greatly inferior— probably not more than two-thirds of the amount—Scotland yet possesses forty-eight members, while the metropolis has only twenty. Do you Reformers mean to say that you are prepared to disfranchise Scotland; or that you are going to develop the representation of the metropolis in proportion to its population and property; and so allow a country like England, so devoted to local government and so influenced by local feeling, to be governed by London? And, therefore, when those speeches are made which gain a cheer for the moment, and are supposed to be so unanswerable as arguments in favor of parliamentary change, I would recommend the house to recollect that this, as a question, is one of the most difficult and one of the deepest that can possibly engage the attention of the country. The fact is this—in the representation of this country you do not depend on population or on property merely, or on both conjoined; you have to see that there is something besides population and property—you have to take care that the country itself is represented. That is one reason why I am opposed to the second reading of the bill. There is another objection which I have to this bill brought forward by the honorable member for Leeds, and that is, that it is brought forward by the member for Leeds. I do not consider this a subject which ought to be intrusted to the care and guidance of any independent member of this house. If there be one subject more than another that deserves the consideration and demands the responsibility of the government, it certainly is the reconstruction of our parliamentary system; and it is the government or the political party candidates for power, who recommend a policy, and who will not shrink from the responsibility of carrying that policy into effect if the opportunity be afforded to them, who alone are qualified to deal with a question of this importance. But, sir, I shall be told, as we have been told in a previous portion of the adjourned debate, that the two great parties of the State cannot be trusted to deal with this question, because they have both trifled with it. That is a charge which has been made repeatedly during this discussion and on previous occasions, and certainly a graver one could not be made in this house. I am not prepared to admit that even our opponents have trifled with this question. We have had a very animated account by the right honorable gentleman who has just addressed us as to what may be called the Story of the Reform Measures. It was animated, but it was not accurate. Mine will be accurate, though I fear it will not be animated. I am not prepared to believe that English statesmen, though they be opposed to me in politics, and may sit on opposite benches, could ever have intended to trifle with this question. I think that possibly they may have made great mistakes in the course which they took; they may have miscalculated, they may have been misled; but I do not believe that any men in this country, occupying the posts, the eminent posts, of those who have recommended any reconstruction of our parliamentary system in modern days, could have advised a course which they disapproved. They may have thought it perilous, they may have thought it difficult, but though they may have been misled I am convinced they must have felt that it was necessary. Let me say a word in favor of one with whom I have had no political connection, and to whom I have been placed in constant opposition in this house when he was an honored member of it—I mean Lord Russell. I cannot at all agree with the lively narrative of the right honorable gentleman, according to which Parliamentary Reform was but the creature of Lord John Russell, whose cabinet, controlled by him with the vigor of a Richelieu, at all times disapproved his course; still less can I acknowledge that merely to amuse himself, or in a moment of difficulty to excite some popular sympathy, Lord John Russell was a statesman always with Reform in his pocket, ready to produce it and make a display. How different from that astute and sagacious statesman now at the head of her Majesty's government, whom I almost hoped to have seen in his place this evening. I am sure it would have given the house great pleasure to have seen him here, and the house itself would have assumed a more good-humored appearance. I certainly did hope that the noble lord would have been enabled to be in his place and prepared to support his policy. According to the animated but not quite accurate account of the right honorable gentleman who has just sat down, all that Lord Derby did was to sanction the humor and caprice of Lord John Russell. It is true that Lord John Russell when prime minister recommended that her Majesty in the speech from the throne should call the attention of Parliament to the expediency of noticing the condition of our representative system; but Lord John Russell unfortunately shortly afterwards retired from his eminent position.
He was succeeded by one of the most considerable statesmen of our days, a statesman not connected with the political school of Lord John Russell, who was called to power not only with assistance of Lord John Russell and the leading members of the Whig party, but supported by the whole class of eminent statesmen who had been educated in the same school and under the same distinguished master. This eminent statesman, however, is entirely forgotten. The right honorable gentleman overlooks the fact that Lord Aberdeen, when prime minister, and when all the principal places in his cabinet were filled with the disciples of Sir Robert Peel, did think it his duty to recommend the same counsel to her Majesty. But this is an important, and not the only important, item in the history of the Reform Bill which has been ignored by the right honorable gentleman. The time, however, came when Lord Aberdeen gave place to another statesman, who has been complimented on his sagacity in evading the subject, as if such a course would be a subject for congratulation. Let me vindicate the policy of Lord Palmerston in his absence. He did not evade the question. Lord Palmerston followed the example of Lord John Russell. He followed the example also of Lord Aberdeen, and recommended her Majesty to notice the subject in the speech from the throne. What becomes, then, of the lively narrative of the right honorable gentleman, and what becomes of the inference and conclusions which he drew from it? Not only is his account inaccurate, but it is injurious, as I take it, to the course of sound policy and the honor of public men. Well, now you have three prime ministers bringing forward the question of Parliamentary Reform; you have Lord John Russell, Lord Aberdeen, and you have even that statesman who, according to the account of the right honorable gentleman, was so eminent for his sagacity in evading the subject altogether. Now, let me ask the house to consider the position of Lord Derby when he was called to power, a position which you cannot rightly understand if you accept as correct the fallacious statements of the right honorable gentleman. I will give the house an account of this subject, the accuracy of which I believe neither side will impugn. It may not possibly be without interest, and will not, I am sure, be without significance. Lord Derby was sent for by her Majesty—an unwilling candidate for office, for let me remind the house that at that moment there was an adverse majority of 140 in the House of Commons, and I therefore do not think that Lord Derby was open to any imputation in hesitating to accept political responsibility under such circumstances. Lord Derby laid these considerations before her Majesty. I speak, of course, with reserve. I say nothing now which I have not said before on the discussion of political subjects in this house. But when a government comes in on Reform and remains in power six years without passing any measure of the kind, it is possible that these circumstances, too, may be lost sight of. Lord Derby advised her Majesty not to form a government under his influence, because there existed so large a majority against him in the House of Commons, and because this question of Reform was placed in such a position that it was impossible to deal with it as he should wish. But it should be remembered that Lord Derby was a member of the famous Cabinet which carried the Reform Bill in 1832. Lord Derby, as Lord Stanley, was in the House of Commons one of the most efficient promoters of the measure. Lord Derby believed that the bill had tended to effect the purpose for which it was designed, and although no man superior to prejudices could fail to see that some who were entitled to the exercise of the franchise were still debarred from the privilege, yet he could not also fail to perceive the danger which would arise from our tampering with the franchise. On these grounds Lord Derby declined the honor which her Majesty desired to confer upon him, but the appeal was repeated. Under these circumstances it would have been impossible for any English statesman longer to hesitate; but I am bound to say that there was no other contract or understanding further than that which prevails among men, however different their politics, who love their country and wish to maintain its greatness. I am bound to add that there was an understanding at the time existing among men of weight on both sides of the house that the position in which the Reform question was placed was one embarrassing to the crown and not creditable to the house, and that any minister trying his best to deal with it under these circumstances would receive the candid consideration of the house. It was thought, moreover, that a time might possibly arrive when both parties would unite in endeavoring to bring about a solution which would tend to the advantage and benefit of the country. And yet, says the right honorable gentleman, it was only in 1860 that the portentous truth flashed across the mind of the country—only in 1860, after so many ministers had been dealing with the question for so many years. All I can say is that this was the question, and the only question, which engaged the attention of Lord Derby's cabinet. The question was whether they could secure the franchise for a certain portion of the working classes, who by their industry, their intelligence, and their integrity, showed that they were worthy of such a possession, without at the same time overwhelming the rest of the constituency by the numbers of those whom they admitted. That, sir, was the only question which occupied the attention of the government of Lord Derby and yet the right honorable gentleman says that it was in 1860 that the attention of the public was first called to the subject, when, in fact, the question of Parliamentary Reform had been before them for ten years, and on a greater scale than that embraced by the measure under consideration this evening.
I need not remind the house of the reception which Lord Derby's Bill encountered. It is neither my disposition, nor, I am sure, that of any of my colleagues, to complain of the votes of this house on that occasion. Political life must be taken as you find it, and as far as I am concerned not a word shall escape me on the subject. But from the speeches made the first night, and from the speech made by the right honorable gentleman this evening, I believe I am right in vindicating the conduct pursued by the party with which I act. I believe that the measure which we brought forward was the only one which has tended to meet the difficulties which beset this question. Totally irrespective of other modes of dealing with the question, there were two franchises especially proposed on this occasion, which, in my mind, would have done much towards solving the difficulty. The first was the franchise founded upon personal property, and the second the franchise founded upon partial occupation. Those two franchises, irrespective of other modes by which we attempted to meet the want and the difficulty—these two franchises, had they been brought into committee of this house, would, in my opinion, have been so shaped and adapted that they would have effected those objects which the majority of the house desire. We endeavored in that bill to make proposals which were in the genius of the English constitution. We did not consider the constitution a mere phrase. We knew that the constitution of this country is a monarchy tempered by co-ordinate estates of the realm. We knew that the House of Commons is an estate of the realm; we knew that the estates of the realm form a political body, invested with political power for the government of the country and for the public good; yet we thought that it was a body founded upon privilege and not upon right. It is, therefore, in the noblest and properest sense of the word, an aristocratic body, and from that characteristic the Reform Bill of 1832 did not derogate; and if at this moment we could contrive, as we did in 1859, to add considerably to the number of the constituent body, we should not change that characteristic, but it would still remain founded upon an aristocratic principle. Well, now the Secretary of State [Sir G. Grey] has addressed us to-night in a very remarkable speech. He also takes up the history of Reform, and before I touch upon some of the features of that speech it is my duty to refer to the statements which he made with regard to the policy which the government of Lord Derby was prepared to assume after the general election. By a total misrepresentation of the character of the amendment proposed by Lord John Russell, which threw the government of 1858 into a minority, and by quoting a passage from a very long speech of mine in 1859, the right honorable gentleman most dexterously conveyed these two propositions to the house—first, that Lord John Russell had proposed an amendment to our Reform Bill, by which the house declared that no bill could be satisfactory by which the working classes were not admitted to the franchise—one of our main objects being that the working classes should in a great measure be admitted to the franchise; and, secondly, that after the election I was prepared, as the organ of the government, to give up all the schemes for those franchises founded upon personal property, partial occupation, and other grounds, and to substitute a bill lowering the borough qualification. That conveyed to the house a totally inaccurate idea of the amendment of Lord John Russell. There was not a single word in that amendment about the working classes. There was not a single phrase upon which that issue was raised, nor could it have been raised, because our bill, whether it could have effected the object or not, was a bill which proposed greatly to enfranchise the working classes. And as regards the statement I made, it simply was this. The election was over—we were still menaced, but we, still acting according to our sense of duty, recommended in the royal speech that the question of a reform of Parliament should be dealt with; because I must be allowed to remind the house that whatever may have been our errors, we proposed a bill which we intended to carry. And having once taken up the question as a matter of duty, no doubt greatly influenced by what we considered the unhappy mistakes of our predecessors, and the difficult position in which they had placed Parliament and the country, we determined not to leave the question until it had been settled. But although still menaced, we felt it to be our duty to recommend to her Majesty to introduce the question of reform when the Parliament of 1859 met; and how were we, except in that spirit of compromise which is the principal characteristic of our political system, how could we introduce a Reform Bill after that election, without in some degree considering the possibility of lowering the borough franchise? But it was not a franchise of 6 pounds, but it was an arrangement that was to be taken with the rest of the bill, and if it had been met in the same spirit we might have retained our places. But, says the right honorable gentleman, pursuing his history of the Reform question, when the government of Lord Derby retired from office "we came in, and we were perfectly sincere in our intentions to carry a Reform Bill; but we experienced such opposition, and never was there such opposition. There was the right honorable gentleman," meaning myself, "he absolutely allowed our bill to be read a second time."
That tremendous reckless opposition to the right honorable gentleman, which allowed the bill to be read a second time, seems to have laid the government prostrate. If he had succeeded in throwing out the bill, the right honorable gentleman and his friends would have been relieved from great embarrassment. But the bill having been read a second time, the government were quite overcome, and it appears they never have recovered from the paralysis up to this time. The right honorable gentleman was good enough to say that the proposition of his government was rather coldly received upon his side of the house, but he said "nobody spoke against it." Nobody spoke against the bill on this side, but I remember some most remarkable speeches from the right honorable gentleman's friends. There was the great city of Edinburgh, represented by acute eloquence of which we never weary, and which again upon the present occasion we have heard; there was the great city of Bristol, represented on that occasion among the opponents, and many other constituencies of equal importance. But the most remarkable speech, which "killed cock robin" was absolutely delivered by one who might be described as almost a member of the government—the chairman of ways and means [Mr. Massey], who, I believe, spoke from immediately behind the prime minister. Did the government express any disapprobation of such conduct? They have promoted him to a great post, and have sent him to India with an income of fabulous amount. And now they are astonished they cannot carry a Reform Bill. If they removed all those among their supporters who oppose such bills by preferring them to posts of great confidence and great lucre, how can they suppose that they will ever carry one? Looking at the policy of the government, I am not at all astonished at the speech which the right honorable gentleman, the Secretary of State, has made this evening. Of which speech I may observe, that although it was remarkable for many things, yet there were two conclusions at which the right honorable gentleman arrived. First, the repudiation of the rights of man, and, next, the repudiation of the 6 pounds franchise. The first is a great relief, and, remembering what the feeling of the house was only a year ago, when, by the dangerous but fascinating eloquence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we were led to believe that the days of Tom Paine had returned, and that Rousseau was to be rivaled by a new social contract, it must be a great relief to every respectable man here to find that not only are we not to have the rights of man, but we are not even to have the 1862 franchise. It is a matter, I think, of great congratulation, and I am ready to give credit to the Secretary of State for the honesty with which he has expressed himself, and I only wish we had had the same frankness, the same honesty we always have, arising from a clear view of his subject, in the first year of the Parliament as we have had in the last. I will follow the example of the right honorable gentleman and his friends. I have not changed my opinions upon the subject of what is called Parliamentary Reform. All that has occurred, all that I have observed, all the results of my reflections, lead me to this more and more—that the principle upon which the constituencies of this country should be increased is one not of radical, but I may say of lateral reform—the extension of the franchise, not its degradation. And although I do not wish in any way to deny that we were in the most difficult position when the Parliament of 1859 met, being anxious to assist the crown and the Parliament by proposing some moderate measure which men on both sides might support, we did, to a certain extent, agree to some modification of the 10 pounds franchise—to what extent no one knows; but I may say that it would have been one which would not at all have affected the character of the franchise, such as I and my colleagues wished to maintain. Yet I confess that my opinion is opposed, as it originally was, to any course of the kind. I think that it would fail in its object, that it would not secure the introduction of that particular class which we all desire to introduce, but that it would introduce many others who are totally unworthy of the suffrage. But I think it is possible to increase the electoral body of the country by the introduction of voters upon principles in unison with the principles of the constitution, so that the suffrage should remain a privilege, and not a right—a privilege to be gained by virtue, by intelligence, by industry, by integrity, and to be exercised for the common good of the country. I think if you quit that ground—if you once admit that every man has a right to vote whom you cannot prove to be disqualified—you would change the character of the constitution, and you would change it in a manner which will tend to lower the importance of this country. Between the scheme we brought forward and the measure brought forward by the honorable member for Leeds, and the inevitable conclusion which its principal supporters acknowledge it must lead to, it is a question between an aristocratic government in the proper sense of the term—that is, a government by the best men of all classes—and a democracy. I doubt very much whether a democracy is a government that would suit this country; and it is just as well that the house, when coming to a vote on this question, should really consider if that be the real issue, between retaining the present constitution—not the present constitutional body, but between the present constitution and a democracy.
It is just as well for the house to recollect that what is at issue is of some price. You must remember, not to use the word profanely, that we are dealing really with a peculiar people. There is no country at the present moment that exists under the circumstances and under the same conditions as the people of this realm. You have, for example, an ancient, powerful, richly-endowed Church, and perfect religious liberty. You have unbroken order and complete freedom. You have estates as large as the Romans; you have a commercial system of enterprise such as Carthage and Venice united never equaled. And you must remember that this peculiar country with these strong contrasts is governed not by force; it is not governed by standing armies—it is governed by a most singular series of traditionary influences, which generation after generation cherishes and preserves because they know that they embalm customs and represent the law. And, with this, what have you done? You have created the greatest empire that ever existed in modern times You have amassed a capital of fabulous amount. You have devised and sustained a system of credit still more marvelous and above all, you have established and maintained a scheme, so vast and complicated, of labor and industry, that the history of the world offers no parallel to it. And all these mighty creations are out of all proportion to the essential and indigenous elements and resources of the country. If you destroy that state of society, remember this— England cannot begin again. There are countries which have been in great peril and gone through great suffering; there are the United States, which in our own immediate day have had great trials; you have had—perhaps even now in the States of America you have—a protracted and fratricidal civil war which has lasted for four years; but if it lasted for four years more, vast as would be the disaster and desolation, when ended the United States might begin again, because the United States would only be in the same condition that England was at the end of the War of the Roses, and probably she had not even 3,000,000 of population, with vast tracts of virgin soil and mineral treasures, not only undeveloped but undiscovered. Then you have France. France had a real revolution in our days and those of our predecessors—a real revolution, not merely a political and social revolution. You had the institutions of the country uprooted, the orders of society abolished—you had even the landmarks and local names removed and erased. But France could begin again. France had the greatest spread of the most exuberant soil in Europe; she had, and always had, a very limited population, living in a most simple manner. France, therefore, could begin again. But England—the England we know, the England we live in, the England of which we are proud—could not begin again. I don't mean to say that after great troubles England would become a howling wilderness. No doubt the good sense of the people would to some degree prevail, and some fragments of the national character would survive; but it would not be the old England—the England of power and tradition, of credit and capital, that now exists. That is not in the nature of things, and, under these circumstances, I hope the house will, when the question before us is one impeaching the character of our constitution, sanction no step that has a preference for democracy but that they will maintain the ordered state of free England in which we live, I do not think that in this country generally there is a desire at this moment for any further change in this matter. I think the general opinion of the country on the subject of Parliamentary Reform is that our views are not sufficiently matured on either side. Certainly, so far as I can judge I cannot refuse the conclusion that such is the condition of honorable gentlemen opposite. We all know the paper circulated among us before Parliament met, on which the speech of the honorable member from Maidstone commented this evening. I quite sympathize with him; it was one of the most interesting contributions to our elegiac literature I have heard for some time. But is it in this house only that we find these indications of the want of maturity in our views upon this subject? Our tables are filled at this moment with propositions of eminent members of the Liberal party—men eminent for character or talent, and for both—and what are these propositions? All devices to counteract the character of the Liberal Reform Bill, to which they are opposed: therefore, it is quite clear, when we read these propositions and speculations, that the mind and intellect of the party have arrived at no conclusions on the subject. I do not speak of honorable gentlemen with disrespect; I treat them with the utmost respect; I am prepared to give them the greatest consideration; but I ask whether these publications are not proofs that the active intelligence of the Liberal party is itself entirely at sea on the subject?
I may say there has been more consistency, more calmness, and consideration on this subject on the part of gentlemen on this side than on the part of those who seem to arrogate to themselves the monopoly of treating this subject. I can, at least, in answer to those who charge us with trifling with the subject, appeal to the recollection of every candid man, and say that we treated it with sincerity—we prepared our measure with care, and submitted it to the house, trusting to its candid consideration—we spared no pains in its preparation: and at this time I am bound to say, speaking for my colleagues, in the main principles on which that bill was founded—namely, the extension of the franchise, not its degradation, will be found the only solution that will ultimately be accepted by the country. Therefore, I cannot say that I look to this question, or that those with whom I act look to it, with any embarrassment. We feel we have done our duty; and it is not without some gratification that I have listened to the candid admissions of many honorable gentlemen who voted against it that they feel the defeat of that measure by the liberal party was a great mistake. So far as we are concerned, I repeat we, as a party, can look to Parliamentary Reform not as an embarrassing subject; but that is no reason why we should agree to the measure of the honorable member for Leeds. It would reflect no credit on the House of Commons. It is a mean device. I give all credit to the honorable member for Leeds for his conscientious feeling; but it would be a mockery to take this bill; from the failures of the government and the whole of the circumstances that attended it, it is of that character that I think the house will best do its duty to the country, and will best meet the constituencies with a very good understanding, if they reject the measure by a decided majority.
THE MEANING OF "CONSERVATISM" (Manchester, .April 3d, 1872)
Gentlemen:— The chairman has correctly reminded you that this is not the first time that my voice has been heard in this hall. But that was an occasion very different from that which now assembles us together— was nearly thirty years ago, when I endeavored to support and stimulate the flagging energies of an institution in which I thought there were the germs of future refinement and intellectual advantage to the rising generation of Manchester, and since I have been here on this occasion I have learned with much gratification that it is now counted among your most flourishing institutions. There was also another and more recent occasion when the gracious office fell to me to distribute among the members of the Mechanics' Institution those prizes which they had gained through their study in letters and in science. Gentlemen, these were pleasing offices, and if life consisted only of such offices you would not have to complain of it. But life has its masculine duties, and we are assembled here to fulfill some of the most important of these, when, as citizens of a free country, we are assembled together to declare our determination to maintain, to uphold the constitution to which we are debtors, in our opinion, for our freedom and our welfare.
Gentlemen, there seems at first something incongruous that one should be addressing the population of so influential and intelligent a county as Lancashire who is not locally connected with them, and, gentlemen, I will frankly admit that this circumstance did for a long time make me hesitate in accepting your cordial and generous invitation. But, gentlemen, after what occurred yesterday, after receiving more than two hundred addresses from every part of this great county, after the welcome which then greeted me, I feel that I should not be doing justice to your feelings, I should not do my duty to myself, if I any longer consider my presence here to-night to be an act of presumption. Gentlemen, though it may not be an act of presumption, it still is, I am told, an act of great difficulty. Our opponents assure us that the Conservative party has no political program; and, therefore, they must look with much satisfaction to one whom you honor to-night by considering him the leader and representative of your opinions when he comes forward, at your invitation, to express to you what that program is. The Conservative party are accused of having no program of policy. If by a program is meant a plan to despoil churches and plunder landlords, I admit we have no program. If by a program is meant a policy which assails or menaces every institution and every interest, every class and every calling in the country, I admit we have no program. But if to have a policy with distinct ends, and these such as most deeply interest the great body of the nation, be a becoming program for a political party, then I contend we have an adequate program, and one which, here or elsewhere, I shall always be prepared to assert and to vindicate.
Gentlemen, the program of the Conservative party is to maintain the constitution of the country. I have not come down to Manchester to deliver an essay on the English constitution; but when the banner of Republicanism is unfurled—when the fundamental principles of our institutions are controverted—I think, perhaps, it may not be inconvenient that I should make some few practical remarks upon the character of our constitution upon that monarchy limited by the co-ordinate authority of the estates of the realm, which, under the title of Queen, Lords, and Commons, has contributed so greatly to the prosperity of this country, and with the maintenance of which I believe that prosperity is bound up.
Gentlemen, since the settlement of that constitution, now nearly two centuries ago, England has never experienced a revolution, though there is no country in which there has been so continuous and such considerable change. How is this? Because the wisdom of your forefathers placed the prize of supreme power without the sphere of human passions. Whatever the struggle of parties, whatever the strife of factions, whatever the excitement and exaltation of the public mind, there has always been something in this country round which all classes and parties could rally, representing the majesty of the law, the administration of justice, and involving, at the same time, the security for every man's rights and the fountain of honor. Now, gentlemen, it is well clearly to comprehend what is meant by a country not having a revolution for two centuries. It means, for that space, the unbroken exercise and enjoyment of the ingenuity of man. It means for that space the continuous application of the discoveries of science to his comfort and convenience. It means the accumulation of capital, the elevation of labor, the establishment of those admirable factories which cover your district; the unwearied improvement of the cultivation of the land, which has extracted from a somewhat churlish soil harvests more exuberant than those furnished by lands nearer to the sun. It means the continuous order which is the only parent of personal liberty and political right. And you owe all these, gentlemen, to the throne.
There is another powerful and most beneficial influence which is also exercised by the crown. Gentlemen, I am a party man. I believe that, without party, parliamentary government is impossible. I look upon parliamentary government as the noblest government in the world, and certainly the one most suited to England. But without the discipline of political connection, animated by the principle of private honor, I feel certain that a popular assembly would sink before the power or the corruption of a minister. Yet, gentlemen, I am not blind to the faults of party government. It has one great defect. Party has a tendency to warp the intelligence, and there is no minister, however resolved he may be in treating a great public question, who does not find some difficulty in emancipating himself from the traditionary prejudice on which he has long acted. It is, therefore, a great merit in our constitution, that before a minister introduces a measure to Parliament, he must submit it to an intelligence superior to all party, and entirely free from influences of that character.
I know it will be said, gentlemen, that, however beautiful in theory, the personal influence of the sovereign is now absorbed in the responsibility of the minister. Gentlemen, I think you will find there is great fallacy in this view. The principles of the English constitution do not contemplate the absence of personal influence on the part of the sovereign; and if they did, the principles of human nature would prevent the fulfillment of such a theory. Gentlemen, I need not tell you that I am now making on this subject abstract observations of general application to our institutions and our history. But take the case of a sovereign of England, who accedes to his throne at the earliest age the law permits, and who enjoys a long reign,—take an instance like that of George III. From the earliest moment of his accession that sovereign is placed in constant communication with the most able statesmen of the period, and of all parties. Even with average ability it is impossible not to perceive that such a sovereign must soon attain a great mass of political information and political experience. Information and experience, gentlemen, whether they are possessed by a sovereign or by the humblest of his subjects, are irresistible in life. No man with the vast responsibility that devolves upon an English minister can afford to treat with indifference a suggestion that has not occurred to him, or information with which he had not been previously supplied. But, gentlemen, pursue this view of the subject. The longer the reign, the influence of that sovereign must proportionately increase. All the illustrious statesmen who served his youth disappear. A new generation of public servants rises up, there is a critical conjunction in affairs—a moment of perplexity and peril. Then it is that the sovereign can appeal to a similar state of affairs that occurred perhaps thirty years before. When all are in doubt among his servants, he can quote the advice that was given by the illustrious men of his early years, and, though he may maintain himself within the strictest limits of the constitution, who can suppose, when such information and such suggestions are made by the most exalted person in the country, that they can be without effect? No, gentlemen; a minister who could venture to treat such influence with indifference would not be a constitutional minister, but an arrogant idiot.
Gentlemen, the influence of the crown is not confined merely to political affairs. England is a domestic country. Here the home is revered and the hearth is sacred. The nation is represented by a family—the royal family; and if that family is educated with a sense of responsibility and a sentiment of public duty, it is difficult to exaggerate the salutary influence they may exercise over a nation. It is not merely an influence upon manners; it is not merely that they are a model for refinement and for good taste— they affect the heart as well as the intelligence of the people; and in the hour of public adversity, or in the anxious conjuncture of public affairs, the nation rallies round the family and the throne, and its spirit is animated and sustained by the expression of public affection. Gentlemen, there is yet one other remark that I would make upon our monarchy, though had it not been for recent circumstances, I should have refrained from doing so. An attack has recently been made upon the throne on account of the costliness of the institution. Gentlemen, I shall not dwell upon the fact that if the people of England appreciate the monarchy, as I believe they do, it would be painful to them that their royal and representative family should not be maintained with becoming dignity, or fill in the public eye a position inferior to some of the nobles of the land. Nor will I insist upon what is unquestionably the fact, that the revenues of the crown estates, on which our sovereign might live with as much right as the Duke of Bedford, or the Duke of Northumberland, has to his estates, are now paid into the public exchequer. All this, upon the present occasion, I am not going to insist upon. What I now say is this: that there is no sovereignty of any first-rate State which costs so little to the people as the sovereignty of England. I will not compare our civil list with those of European empires, because it is known that in amount they treble and quadruple it; but I will compare it with the cost of sovereignty in a republic, and that a republic with which you are intimately acquainted—the republic of the United States of America.
Gentlemen, there is no analogy between the position of our sovereign, Queen Victoria, and that of the President of the United States. The President of the United States is not the sovereign of the United States. There is a very near analogy between the position of the President of the United States and that of the prime minister of England, and both are paid at much the same rate—the income of a second-class professional man. The sovereign of the United States is the people; and I will now show you what the sovereignty of the United States costs. Gentlemen, you are aware of the Constitution of the United States. There are thirty-seven independent States, each with a sovereign legislature. Besides these, there is a Confederation of States, to conduct their external affairs, which consists of the House of Representatives and a Senate. There are two hundred and eighty-five members of the House of Representatives, and there are seventy-four members of the Senate, making altogether three hundred and fifty-nine members of Congress. Now each member of Congress receives 1,000 pounds sterling per annum. In addition to this he receives an allowance called "mileage," which varies according to the distance which he travels, but the aggregate cost of which is about 30,000 pounds per annum. That makes 389,000 pounds, almost the exact amount of our civil list.
But this, gentlemen, will allow you to make only a very imperfect estimate of the cost of sovereignty in the United States. Every member of every legislature in the thirty-seven States is also paid. There are, I believe, five thousand and ten members of State legislatures, who receive about $350 per annum each. As some of the returns are imperfect, the average which I have given of expenditure may be rather high, and therefore I have not counted the mileage, which is also universally allowed. Five thousand and ten members of State legislatures at $350 each make $1,753,500, or 350,700 pounds sterling a year. So you see, gentlemen, that the immediate expenditure for the sovereignty of the United States is between 700,000 and 800,000 pounds a year. Gentlemen, I have not time to pursue this interesting theme, otherwise I could show that you have still but imperfectly ascertained the cost of sovereignty in a republic. But, gentlemen, I cannot resist giving you one further illustration.
The government of this country is considerably carried on by the aid of royal commissions. So great is the increase of public business that it would be probably impossible for a minister to carry on affairs without this assistance. The Queen of England can command for these objects the services of the most experienced statesmen, and men of the highest position in society. If necessary, she can summon to them distinguished scholars or men most celebrated in science and in arts; and she receives from them services that are unpaid. They are only too proud to be described in the commission as her Majesty's "trusty councilors"; and if any member of these commissions performs some transcendent services, both of thought and of labor, he is munificently rewarded by a public distinction conferred upon him by the fountain of honor. Gentlemen, the government of the United States, has, I believe, not less availed itself of the services of commissions than the government of the United Kingdom; but in a country where there is no fountain of honor, every member of these commissions is paid.
Gentlemen, I trust I have now made some suggestions to you respecting the monarchy of England which at least may be so far serviceable that when we are separated they may not be altogether without advantage; and now, gentlemen, I would say something on the subject of the House of Lords. It is not merely the authority of the throne that is now disputed, but the character and the influence of the House of Lords that are held up by some to public disregard. Gentlemen, I shall not stop for a moment to offer you any proofs of the advantage of a second chamber; and for this reason. That subject has been discussed now for a century, ever since the establishment of the government of the United States, and all great authorities, American, German, French, Italian, have agreed in this, that a representative government is impossible without a second chamber. And it has been, especially of late, maintained by great political writers in all countries, that the repeated failure of what is called the French republic is mainly to be ascribed to its not having a second chamber.
But, gentlemen, however anxious foreign countries have been to enjoy this advantage, that anxiety has only been equaled by the difficulty which they have found in fulfilling their object. How is a second chamber to be constituted? By nominees of the sovereign power? What influence can be exercised by a chamber of nominees? Are they to be bound by popular election? In what manner are they to be elected? If by the same constituency as the popular body, what claim have they, under such circumstances, to criticize or to control the decisions of that body? If they are to be elected by a more select body, qualified by a higher franchise, there immediately occurs the objection, why should the majority be governed by the minority? The United States of America were fortunate in finding a solution of this difficulty; but the United States of America had elements to deal with which never occurred before, and never probably will occur again, because they formed their illustrious Senate from materials that were offered them by the thirty-seven States. We gentlemen, have the House of Lords, an assembly which has historically developed and periodically adapted itself to the wants and necessities of the times.
What, gentlemen, is the first quality which is required in a second chamber? Without doubt, independence. What is the best foundation of independence? Without doubt, property. The prime minister of England has only recently told you, and I believe he spoke quite accurately, that the average income of the members of the House of Lords is 20,000 pounds per annum. Of course there are some who have more, and some who have less; but the influence of a public assembly, so far as property is concerned, depends upon its aggregate property, which, in the present case, is a revenue of 9,000,000 pounds a year. But, gentlemen, you must look to the nature of this property. It is visible property, and therefore it is responsible property, which every rate-payer in the room knows to his cost. But, gentlemen, it is not only visible property; it is, generally speaking, territorial property; and one of the elements of territorial property is, that it is representative. Now, for illustration, suppose—which God forbid—there was no House of Commons, and any Englishman,—I will take him from either end of the island,—a Cumberland, or a Cornish man, finds himself aggrieved, the Cumbrian says: "This conduct I experience is most unjust. I know a Cumberland man in the House of Lords, the Earl of Carlisle or the Earl of Lonsdale; I will go to him; he will never see a Cumberland man ill-treated." The Cornish man will say: "I will go to the Lord of Port Eliot; his family have sacrificed themselves before this for the liberties of Englishmen, and he will get justice done me."